The Actual Book List

180 (1)

A while back I gained some perspective when I read the blog post from Wait But Why about how much time we may have left at any given point in our lives. One of the things that rattled me (besides the fact that I may only have 20 more holidays left with certain people) is how many books I may read by the end of my life.

Life is busy and distracting, and although I like to read, I am not a fast reader and start a lot of book, yet never finish them. I typically would have 6 to 8 books on my nightstand. With a series of fits and starts I would go back and forth between all of these books, yet never finish them.

At my then pace of about 4 books per year (I am only counting actual books that I actually finished – you know all the way to the last page) at best I only had 180 books left to read.


With the millions of books in the world, and thousands being added everyday, 180 books became a scary proposition.

I used to brag about books I was reading, or books I intended to read. But those books remain unfinished.

For 2016, I decided to create a new pattern, a new approach.

I now have the actual book list.

These are books I have actually read in 2016. I write them down right after I finish and savor that last page. There is something important about that transaction. Instead of the pressure of seeing those stacks of unread books, I now have a list of what I actually did.

I am a big fan of lists. But lists, especially aspirations or dreams can feel so unattainable that those same lists that are designed to help us, can become an overwhelming burden of non-accomplishment.

The Actual Book ListInstead of a list of what I would like to accomplish, the actual book list records the progress that I actually made. There is something more satisfying about this list.

The good news: at this pace the 180 may just become 360, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

The real number is 4 for 2016 as of today. But even 4 in the midst of a crazy, busy, and distracted life feels like an achievement.